Men's hockey: No. 1 UW wins at Minnesota

Badgers earn 4-3 victory Friday night in key WCHA road matchup

The Gophers' frantic comeback attempt, and their vaunted power play, came up short Friday night, as the No. 1 ranked University of Wisconsin men's hockey team held on for an impressive 4-3 victory at No. 4 Minnesota.

The win extended the Badgers' nation-leading unbeaten streak to 13 games (11-0-2) and snapped a 10-game losing streak in Mariucci Arena against Minnesota. UW's last win on the Gophers' home ice came on Feb. 26, 2000.

Most importantly, Wisconsin (12-1-2 overall, 9-0-2 WCHA) built a six-point lead on Minnesota (7-4-4, 6-3-2) in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings.

Joe Pavelski scored twice and Robbie Earl and Ross Carlson tallied goals as the Badgers commanded a 4-1 lead early in the third period.

Minnesota, though, chipped away as they continued to bombard UW goaltender Brian Elliott with pucks.

Elliott faced a season-high 38 shots and made 35 saves. But Gopher defenseman P.J. Atherton scored at 10:36 in the third and forward Justin Bostrom found the back of the net with four minutes left in the game, pulling Minnesota within one goal.

Minnesota, which took 15 shots on goal in the third period, was then granted a golden opportunity to send the game into overtime when UW forward Jake Dowell was called for a cross-checking minor at 18:50 in the third.

After pulling goaltender Kellen Briggs, Minnesota spent most of the final 70 seconds with a 6-on-4 edge. Despite several solid chances, however, the Gophers were not able to solve UW's penalty kill, failing to convert for the fifth time in six tries.

Minnesota entered the game connecting on 23.5 percent of its power plays. The Badgers, however, killed off a pair of minor penalties in the first period.

With one minute, 45 seconds left in the opening session, though, winger Ryan MacMurchy was called for a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for hitting from behind, and the Gophers took advantage. At the 19:38 mark in the first period, Ryan Potulny tied the game at 1-1, tallying his nation-leading ninth power-play goal of the season.

The Badgers still had 3:15 left on the MacMurchy major when the second period began, but killed off that extended man-advantage.

Minnesota was blanked on the power play the rest of the game.

Wisconsin, meanwhile, was very efficient, converting on 2 of 3 power-play opportunities.

Pavelski's goals — one midway through the second period and the eventual game-winner early in the third — both came on the man-advantage.

Wisconsin took a 1-0 lead just 27 seconds into the game on Earl's sixth goal of the season. Earl added an assist on Pavelski's second goal.

Elliott gave up more than two goals for the first time all season, but still came up big in another Badger victory. Minnesota out-shot the Badgers 38-25. Elliott withstood that fury and even scored a point, assisting on Pavelski's first goal.

The Badgers and Gophers conclude their series in Mariucci Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.

Elliott named national player of the month

Elliott was selected as the CSTV: College Sports Television/Hockey Commissioners' Association National Division I Player of the Month for November. Elliott led Wisconsin to a 7-0-1 record in November, with a 1.36 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage. He was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week three times in November.

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